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“GRA intensifies surveillance against drug trafficking” as West and Central Africa customs experts meet

Nov 30, 2010, 11:05 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Gambia Revenue Authority, (GRA), has intensified surveillance against drug trafficking and border patrols to monitor cross border vices, Kaba Tambajang, Commissioner-General of the GRA said yesterday.

Mr Tambajang was speaking to regional delegates attending the 5th World Customs Organisation, West and Central Africa customs experts meeting currently underway at the Coco Ocean Hotel in Kerr Serign.

Hosted by the GRA, the meeting, according to officials, is meant to be a mid-term meeting to consider the progress on the implementation of some of the decisions at the last meeting in Bamako, Mali. It brought together customs experts from West and Central Africa.

The experts group is a forum where representatives of customs administrations come together to critically deliberate on issues that needed to be addressed for the effective performance of the multi-dimensional roles placed on customs officials.

Revenue collection, statistical data for planning, trade facilitation, security and protection of culture and IPR issues are the other topics for discussion.

Commissioner Tambajang stated that the decision to host the meeting in the Gambia was in recognition of the significant achievements that the Government of the Gambia has realised in building institutional capacities for the attainment of its development objectives.

According to him, customs administrations in the region have a daunting task in coping with demands arising from the globalisation of trade in the 21st century.

This, he added, requires capacity building, a cordial working relationship and full cooperation of all stakeholders, including protecting borders from illicit trade, ensure trade facilitation, addressing poverty reduction, international terrorism and the protection of the environment.

“To tackle these problems confronting us today requires the strong support of our government and peoples, adoption and co-ordination of appropriate strategies at both national, sub regional and global levels,” Mr. Tambajang added.

In his opening remarks, Abdou Colley, minister of Finance, said as the world recovers from the recent economic crisis, institutions like the World Customs Organisation would be very instrumental in the facilitation of trade, and hence sustained global economic growth.

“Therefore, the holding of this meeting in The Gambia is a great opportunity to remind ourselves, as Africans, of the need for the improvement of greater integration in our continent for the improvement of the living standards of our people,” Colley added.

According to Finance Minister Colley, the meeting will highlight all pertinent emerging issues and challenges confronting customs administrations in the two sub-regions, where trade and domestic resources mobilisations are essential to socio- economic development.

Delivering his goodwill message, the vice chairman of the World Customs Organisation, Manassah Daniel Jatau, noted that the challenges before customs officers are daunting.

“The expectations from governments and the people are increasing. For most of us, revenue from customs duties is a significant part of total government direct tax. We are central to government’s effort to protect national economies,” he stated.

In addition to this traditional role, Daniel added, customs is crucial to all efforts bordering on cross border security, environment protection and sustainability, as well as intellectual property rights enforcement.

Other speakers included Ansumana Trawally, Commissioner of Customs, Gambia Revenue Authority.